SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers donned motorcycle helmets as they discussed a bill that would require motorcyclists under 21 to wear a helmet when riding.
After an hour of debate, the House Business and Labor Committee voted 8-4 in favor of SB159, which would raise the age limit requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets. The bill would increase the age from 18 in a state where motorcycle riders are otherwise free to ride without head protection.
Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Cottonwood Heights, said the age change would protect a group at particular risk of injury.
"This group of young adults, while physically quite mature, are a little more impulsive and have a little less of the executive reasoning that we see in the prefrontal cortex," Shiozawa said.
He noted that the law would protect riders, fellow motorists and taxpayers who bear the medical costs for injuries and deaths, as well as the lost productivity from the workforce.
Shiozawa said it's not his intention to seek a universal helmet law.
Connor Boyack of the Libertas Institute spoke against the age change.
Boyack said a separate conversation could be had about what should be the true age of adulthood, but said that if Utah recognized 18 as the threshold, then its laws should reflect that by offering 18 year olds the same rights.
Greg Douglas, vice president of the Utah County chapter of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education, emphasized personal preference in riding, saying injury and death among motorcyclists come from untrained riders more than safety equipment.
Douglas said laws should focus on educating and training riders, not on forcing riders to wear helmets that give people a "false sense of security."